The Ardross-man


Barony St John

Door replacement

I mentioned in a previous article that we had Resource Efficient Scotland (RES) in at our Barony St John Centre for an energy saving survey. Well, they made a number of suggestions which I hope to achieve and tell you about over the next few months but one of those suggestions was to replace the main entrance door to our Centre.

You see, I knew we had problems with wind and water ingress around windows and I knew we could do with an upgraded heating system and extra insulation but one of the biggest culprits of heat loss in our building was staring me in the face and I just never clicked until RES told me.

Sometimes you just can’t see the wood for the trees……and this wooden door was a major problem.


The entrance door to the Barony St John takes the full brunt of the winds from the sea and over the years it has gradually rotted in places.

Additionally, a wooden door is not the best for energy efficiency. It swells and contracts with heat. So, in the Summer time it is fine but in the Winter months, it contracts allowing the wind and rain to penetrate into the building and drives the warmth of the building out.

Obvious really but like most things that stare you in the face, it never registered with me until they mentioned it.

RES suggested we replace the door and frame with a more solid and energy efficient PVC door with sealed edges. This would not only make the building more energy efficient but also make it more secure.

I had a chat with the Council’s Planning Department and they agreed that the door could be replaced – as long as the door and the frame stayed the same colour…red.

Keeping it red, especially with a red frame added a lot to the overall cost but needs must and by mid-March, the door had been made (you can’t just buy an off the shelf door as the door dimensions of church buildings aren’t the same as a house or office).

The old door was taken out.

And the new door put in.


And what a difference it has made. The temperature has increased in our doorway by 6 degrees on bad weather days.

If you would like to help me fundraise for the repairs and renewals to make the Barony St John Centre wind and watertight, please get in touch.

I will keep you posted on all the renovation works.

Goodbye for now.


Monday 16th March 2020 was a sad day for me. I had to suspend the services of my charity, The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety, and temporarily close our base, the Barony St John Centre in Ardrossan, due to the coronavirus.

The day before, Sunday 15th, I had to seriously think about these measures. Many of the people we help through the provision of our Personal Safety courses are vulnerable and all of training we provide has a hands-on element as we teach practical self defence skills.

The virus outbreak had meant that our volunteer trainers had to sanitize their hands before and after every self defence technique was demonstrated and then every participant had to do the same. We could go through a bottle of sanitizer per training session.

Another issue that weighed heavily on me was that I had a duty of care towards my volunteers, many of whom, including myself, have their own health problems.

Taking this all into account, I felt I had no option other than to suspend our training courses.

Now, I could have decided to leave our Centre open for evening classes, even although the cost of providing equipment and hand sanitizer for our gym users combined with heating bills would far outweigh any hall rental we receive, but things took an unexpected turn when I developed a sore throat and a sporadic cough. This was enough for me to be advised to self-isolate probably due to my lung condition and even although I’m pretty sure this has nothing to do with the coronavirus.

For any other charity or organisation, the containment of the founder would not be an issue, however I not only develop and teach the courses we provide; I also clean the Centre every day and without my input, there would be no-one to clean the gym equipment, punchbags, floor mats, sterilize the boxing gloves, clean the toilets and reception, etc. etc.

The cleaner we hire to come in once per week just couldn’t cope with all these added duties never mind the additional expense.

But there was another problem; I had been in the Centre on a daily basis, so if I was infected, the Centre could be too.

It was too high a risk. The Centre had to close.

Initially, some people felt I had “jumped the gun” and closed the charity’s activities prematurely but as Monday 16th wore on, I started to see more of our partner organisations follow suit.

RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) suspended their group activities; Deafblind Scotland cancelled all meetings and social activities; and Scottish War Blinded closed their Centres completely.

I felt vindicated. Closing our Centre was the right thing to do, partially as we have the added responsibility of being a nationally recognised charity.

Since then, I have had time to ponder over this outbreak and its consequences;

We were initially told not to panic buy so those of us who didn’t soon became faced with the reality that now that they needed basic food items and supplies, there just wasn’t any left. The shelves are always bare.

People are going mad, fighting over toilet rolls and pasta – and this was only in the first week or so of the virus – even before the Prime Minister asked people to stay at home.

It reminded me of the TV show “The Walking Dead” where the world has been taken over by a virus which has turned people into zombies.

I remember watching this show about six years ago and seeing the “good” survivors fight the “bad” survivors as well as the zombies. It was an apocalyptic vision.

Unfortunately, this vision is all too easy to visualise now as things begin to spiral out of control with this virus. Even the name, COVID 19, has some kind of zombie connotations for me.

As I watched people fight over groceries and resort to fisticuffs over who was first in the till queue, I realised that there simply wouldn’t be good and bad survivors like in “The Walking Dead”. The good guys just wouldn’t be there. There is no room for compassion when it comes down to the last toilet roll.

No, the vision of the future I was beginning to have was more like the movie “Mad Max” where ALL the survivors are bad with a mean streak and able to kill anyone for whatever they need. I guess you would have to be like that just to survive.

This realisation depressed the hell out of me! Would I want to live in a world like that?

Luckily, there has been some good news as grocery stores enforce a “two items only” policy begin to have “Senior Citizen Opening Times” where the elderly can shop before anyone else without fear of being knocked over.

Hopefully, people will begin to calm down and show a bit of compassion. Stores will be stocked regularly, so if you can’t get certain foods today, they will hopefully be available tomorrow.

I’m hoping we can all be a bit more thoughtful and kinder to each other in the future. Let’s not fall out over a toilet roll.

Meanwhile, I will keep you posted on all the renovation works that are planned for the Barony St John Centre and if you would like to read more about my charity, visit

Goodbye for now.

1889 – what a year!

With extensive work getting done on our hall building, I began to wonder how long this building has survived for.

It’s actually 131 years old being built in 1889.

So what was happening in 1889?

The Coca-Cola Company, then known as the Pemberton Medicine Company, was born in Atlanta, Georgia on 15th January.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) was founded on 17th February in Manchester and originally known as “The Plumage League” as they campaigned against the use of plumage in women’s clothing.

On 31 May, the Naval Defence Act was published and it dictated that the Royal Navy’s fleet strength must be equal to that of at least any two other countries in the world – obviously changed days as Britannia hasn’t ruled the waves for quite some time now.

Shockingly, it only became a crime to abuse a child from 26th August 1889 when “The Prevention of Cruelty to and Protection of Children Act” came into force.

And overseas, the last official bare-knuckle boxing title fight ever held was fought in Mississippi on 8th July 1889 between Heavyweight Champion, John L. Sullivan and contender Jake Kilrain.

Infamous gunslinger and latterly sheriff of Dodge City, Bat Masterson was employed as peacekeeper and official timekeeper of the fight which lasted 75 rounds – a total of two hours and 16 minutes of gruelling pugilism.

To make matters worse, back then, each round only had a thirty second rest period as opposed to sixty seconds nowadays and the temperature in the outdoor ring reached over 100 degrees in the blazing sun as a crowd of between 3,000 – 4,000 cheered them on.

If you think boxers these days are fit, they have nothing on bare-knuckle boxers of days gone by.


Star of David Window replacement Day 3


The pains of glass have been replaced – and we now have a new window…

Complete with our logo in the middle 🙂

Star of David Window replacement Day 2 – PM


Do we?..

Yes, we do….we have a new window 🙂

Well, a least we have the frame in.

Star of David Window replacement Day 2 – AM

It turned out that high winds and torrential rain halted our planned window replacement on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.

But the conservation team arrived on Thursday and removed the old window slowly but surely…





Star of David Window replacement Day 1

The specialist conservation window company we’ve used to install a replacement window in our our hall room arrived today to begin the removal of our Star of David window…..

Once scaffolding was erected, the extent of the damage could be easily seen….

Wood rot, cracked pains of glass and wet rot had left this window in a bad way. Just as well, we arranged to have it replaced with a double glazed replica….

But Ardrossan is currently being battered by high winds and driving rain from the seafront making the safe removal of the window impossible….

So, for now, the old window is still in situ and the new frame is keeping dry in the main church building.

I’ll keep you posted on our progress.


Merry Christmas 2019

Merry Christmas from myself and everyone at The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety. Let’s hope the Barony St John gets the Christmas present it deserves….funding to save it.

Storm Brendon 2019

Storm Brendon hit Ardrossan hard with several buildings being damaged including a chimney and some rendering being blown off a building at the opposite end of Princes Street (where we are situated). The pieces of the building fell 8 metres onto the pavement below which resulted in the Fire Brigade and Police being called into attendance.

And we were just as unlucky…

We now have daylight between our hall corridor and the church building as this partition roof was ripped off leaving a precarious overhang. 😦


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